What is Cube Shelving?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Cube shelving is available in a wide variety of types. It may be a few hollow cube-shaped frames designed to be hung on walls and hold small items or an entire cube shelving system that will provide floor to ceiling storage space. Cube shelving is made from many different materials, including wood, wire and plastic.

Plastic cube shelves tend to be modular, hollow individual units with rounded corners. These may be used individually in a room or combined. Oftentimes, this type of lightweight cube shelving may be hung on the wall as well as stacked about two or three high on the floor as a small bookcase. The cube stacks could then be placed side-by-side. Some larger modular, hollow cubes can be combined to form coffee tables or used individually as a side table.

Wire cube shelving is usually sold in units of cubes. Some of these systems are so large they take up an entire wall. Flat squares of wire mesh are designed in these systems to be constructed into cubes and held together with fasteners included. Many of these fasteners are round plastic pieces that fit onto the corners of the cubes. These corner fasteners hold the cubes together to make them sturdy.

Wood varieties of cube shelf tend to look a little more formal than the plastic or wire types. They may be hollow and open or feature an inner shelf plus an outer cabinet door. Some wooden cube shelving is meant to use as modular cabinets, either as side tables or stacked to create a tall storage unit. Other types of wood cubes meant for use as tables may have furniture feet added to the bottoms.

Cabinet door hardware on closed-in wood cube shelving is often metal that varies in color. These wood shelving units may be light or dark stained. Wire cube shelf systems are usually either silver-toned or coated in white plastic. Plastic modular cube style shelving pieces typically have the widest color range that often includes neutrals, pastels and brights.

Cube shelving is thought to have been inspired by the same look that wooden crates that were once used for produce make when used as furniture. Versatile cube pieces of all types of materials are usually very affordable as well as lightweight. Cube styles of shelving can be ideal for college dorms and first apartments as well as for anyone on a strict furniture budget.

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Discussion Comments


@Azuza - I have some cube shelving around my apartment too. Most people think of cube shelving and associate it with college apartments. However, a few stores have put out some nice, adult-looking cube shelves in recent years.

As the article said, the variety of types has multiplied. Wood, wire, or plastic: the possibilities are endless. It's easy to find nice looking cube shelving to fit in with your decor.


I think it's funny that cube shelving kind of evolved from milk crates. I actually have never known anyone to have actual milk crate furniture these days-I think it's harder to get them than it used to be.

However, I have a bookcase that is made up of cube shelving. I love it! It's made up of black wooden cubes and I think it looks more interesting than a regular bookcase. Also I can rearrange it when I move. At one place I lived I had it arranged so it was tall and narrow, and at another one I had it a little shorter.


@Kat919 - I love your idea for the telephone table. I'm trying to help my husband furnish an office/"man cave" right now. He wants a little table next to his leather recliner for his beer and remote control and we don't have a lot of money to spend; a couple of cube shelf units might be just right.

My father used to use the ultimate cheap shelving idea - planks of wood from the lumber section and cinder blocks! My parents were very poor when they started out because they married so young, but he kept those cinder block shelves in the basement for years and years. I guess he just got used to the "poverty chic." These days, there are so many options for cheap furniture that didn't exist in the past.


When I was in college, we loved the cube storage! We had picked up some cute plastic ones cheap. We made a little telephone "table" with room for the yellow pages underneath, hung some on the wall, etc.

The closets they give you in college are teeny-tiny and you usually don't have room for a proper bookcase. We liked these because we could stick them wherever we had a little bit of room.

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